A Long Island mother of five gave her friend the gift of lifetime when she agreed to be a her surrogate after a rare disease left the woman unable to carry her own children.
Nicole Barattini was 16 years old when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), which causes tiny blood clots to form throughout the body. Through various forms of treatment, Barattini had learned to manage her condition, and when she married her longtime love Kevin Barattini in 2010, the two looked forward to starting a family together.
But soon after their wedding Nicole learned the devastating news that while she would likely be able to get pregnant, the medication she was taking for her TTP (which is not a genetic disease) could harm her unborn baby. Not taking the medication, however, would be detrimental to her own health.
Over the next several years, the Barattinis explored other ways to have a child, but such options proved to be cost prohibitive for the couple. In the meantime, however, Nicole made the decision to freeze her eggs in the hope that one day they may find someone to carry their baby.
“We had heard stories that sisters carried and mothers carried [eggs for women who could not carry], but I don’t have a sister and my mother is over the age [to be able to be a carrier],” Nicole told Redbook. “We just did it [froze my eggs] for precautionary reasons and hoped for the best.”
In New York state, where the couple lives, it is illegal to pay for surrogacy, though it is legal for a woman to agree to act as a gestational carrier free of charge. Several friends had offered to do so for the couple in the past, but, for medical reasons, it never worked out. Frustrated by their lack of options, the Barattinis had began to resign themselves to the fact that having a family may not be in their future. That’s when everything changed.
While out to dinner with longtime friends, Lianna and Shawn Fives, in December 2015, the Barattinis received the surprise of their lives, when Lianna expressed a desire to carry their children.
“I was blessed to have five kids and they are all amazing and I couldn’t picture my life without them,” Lianna, 37, told People. “And to see this family so deserving it broke my heart.”
As it turns out, Lianna had always been interested in helping the Barattinis grow their family, but she felt it was best to wait until after she had her own children.
“At first it was difficult for me to get a sense of why she wanted to do this,” Nicole admitted. “She is an angel. She wanted to do this out of the kindness of her heart.”
After two rounds of IVF, Lianna learned she was pregnant with twins. TheBarattinis and Fives threw a big party on Labor Day 2016 to share the good news with friends and relatives. On February 10, 2017, both couples were in the operating room as Lianna underwent a C-section at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York.
The Barattinis asked the Fives to be godparents to babies Dominic and Luciana, and they remain so grateful for the incredible gift that has been given to them.
“After hearing our story, I hope that there are people out there that will help other couples because they gave us life,” Nicole told ABC7. “They changed our lives forever.”
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